What's the story
The Zimbabwe Cricket(ZC) Board finds themselves in a tough situation with the players having given them a stiff ultimatum to pay their long-overdue salaries and match fees by June 25, failing which they will boycott the upcoming T20 tri-series with Australia and Pakistan. The cricketers are owed three months' salary and match fees from their tour of Sri Lanka last July and have already opted not to train ahead of the tri-series as the first sign of protest.
The heart of the matter
A ZC spokesperson has informed media that a solution to this situation is nearly at hand. "Due to a very difficult financial situation beyond ZC's control, ZC has been unable to meet some of its obligations, including paying players' and staff's salaries in time. However, because this is a matter of top priority, ZC has been working round the clock to address the challenge and, as promised to the players by our chairman, ZC expects to start processing payments this week."
However, the players have a different story to tell.
"It's a complete joke at the moment," one player said. "ZC made out as though some players were injured to save face. They didn't bother that the big-name players weren't available, they just needed to get the games out of the way. No one knows how things will work going forward."
Meanwhile, the new interim coach, former Indian cricketer Lalchand Rajput is expected to arrive in Zimbabwe on June 10, but it may be to the sight of empty nets as the players have taken a strong stand against playing unless they have been paid.
In case you didn't know...
Zimbabwe Cricket has had a long-standing history of problems spanning over nearly two decades, as a once-formidable lineup reeled under political interventions, which cost the careers of the likes of Heath Streak, Andy Flower, Henry Olonga and Tatenda Taibu. After a brief period of resurgence between 2008 and 2012, problems started surfacing once again after the players accused the board of not paying them their due salaries.
Zimbabwe Cricket has been fighting against the issue since then, but it has been of no avail so far.
ZC has been doing their level best to convince the players of being paid as soon as possible. However, many insiders remain sceptical. ZC is suspected to be severely cash-strapped, with debts in the region of almost USD 19 million. It is expecting an ICC payout in July but that may come too late to meet the players' demands. To secure the payout, ZC needed to see the domestic season to a close. The board suspended it in January to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers but it resumed in April, and that has not solved the problem yet.
Zimbabwe are also due to host Pakistan for five ODIs later in the year but the fate of those matches has not come under the spotlight yet.
Failing to be a part of the tri-series against Australia and Pakistan could have serious repercussions in the future for Zimbabwe cricket. The series is bound to begin on July 1st, and was supposed to be held for a week, followed by the 5-match ODI series against Pakistan from July 13.
What do you think the future holds for Zimbabwe Cricket amidst these adverse issues? Leave your thoughts on the comments below.